Ductless Air Conditioners
Mini Splits Systems: Guide
Ductless air conditioners, or mini splits, are very similar in design to central air conditioners that use ducts as they also consist of two units, one outside containing the compressor and condenser, and one inside containing the evaporator and fan.
The inside unit is usually mounted on the wall or on the ceiling, the difference between the two models is that ductless systems are generally smaller and quieter and, of course, they don’t require any ductwork.
Ductless air conditioners are ideal for buildings that have no built in ductwork such as homes that have baseboard or radiant heating and old buildings where installing ducts would be not be practical or feasible. They are also commonly used for home extensions where the house already has a central system in place but extending the ductwork is impractical.
There are a number of advantages to the ductless air conditioner, not the least of which is that you can buy the system in small portions. You could buy a unit for each ‘zone’ or area of your house separately and eventually end up with a full central system. This is because the outside unit can control between one and four indoor units at a time. They are easy to install too; all that is needed is a three inch hole in the wall for the refrigerant lines and wiring.
The biggest advantage to ductless air conditioners is that they combine the cooling capacity and efficiency of a central system with the ‘spot cooling’ capabilities of a room air conditioner unit. This gives you more control over your cooling system enabling you to cool specific rooms according to your requirements. This is a particularly appealing notion for many as it is a feature that can be utilized to further increase the efficiency on an already energy efficient product. This in turn means lower electric bills, which is always a plus.
Conversely, the biggest disadvantage to ductless air conditioners is how much they cost. They do tend to be fairly expensive to buy, approximately 30% more than conventional central air conditioners and about twice as much as a room air conditioner. However, if you do require a central cooling system in a building without ducts then this may still be a far cheaper option than attempting to install ductwork.